I received the HCSB large print ultra-thin reference Bible in genuine cowhide as a review copy from B&H Publishing. One thing that I have to mention up-front is that I use the HCSB for preaching, teaching, and study. With that being said, this new edition of the large print ultra-thin reference Bible is an improvement over the previous 2004 edition. First of all, it has the updated 2009 HCSB text and the quality of the features have improved, but more on that later.
B&H used a company in Denmark to design and typeset the interior of the Bible. This has resulted in a somewhat different look that I have seen before. You will find the same two-column format with center-column cross-references but without lines dividing the references from the biblical text. It could be said that the absence of the lines lends to less visual distraction, and with this I would agree. One difference with the cross-references is that they have gone to an italicized letter key format. Each page starts it’s center-column references with the letter “a” and proceeds onward to list each entry to the point of having entries such as “ag” to designate the references. The textual notes that the HCSB has featured from its release are still found at the bottom of the page. One improvement in recent editions of the HCSB have been the absence of a box around direct speech, which looked very out-of-place and distracting. The text, though a different font that what I am used to in a Bible, is very readable and I have become comfortable with it. This is a red-letter edition, which is not my preference, but it is not an issue for me. It is more of a dark red color, so I don’t believe that anyone would have difficulty reading it.
In the back of the Bible you will find the glossary of bullet-point definitions. The HCSB has featured bullets next to names, places, theological terminology, etc… and defined these words in a glossary in the back of the Bible. I think it is helpful and a nice feature for the reader. The bullets are not nearly as distracting as they once were in the initial editions of the HCSB. This edition also features a concordance, but I have discovered that it is not as extensive as the concordance found in the HCSB Minister’s Bible. Personally, I prefer a more extensive concordance. In all fairness, it is better than the abridged or topical concordances found in most Bibles today. In fact, many Bible editions today do not even have a concordance. This is likely the result of the reality that many professing Christians do not actually study their Bibles, but rather use them as a decoration in their home or as a fashion accessory for their person when attending church.
The paper is an off-white color, which reduces shine and increases readability. The paper is a good weight, definitely heavier than most Bibles on the market today. Many publishers have attempted to cut cost and utilized lighter paper, which wrinkles easily, tears easily, and has significant bleed-through from the following pages (forget about trying to write on the pages of those type of editions). There is bleed-through in this edition but it is not significant. It is not enough to be distracting. The font on the page is dark enough that “ghosting” is only noticeable when there is no overlap of text on adjoining pages. One feature of this Bible that is worth mentioning are the outside margins. There is more room than one normally finds in a non-wide margin edition. This was certainly a pleasant find for one who likes to record notes in his Bible. The weight and color of the paper also lends itself to being able to write in this edition. I prefer the Pigma Micron pen for writing in my Bible. It is a pigment ink that is waterproof and fade proof. My edition also comes with a .25 mm line width (there are different sizes).
The cover of this Bible is described on the box as “genuine cowhide” and it is. The leather has a to it and is soft to the touch. It is not limp nor bendable like a high-end calfskin edition. I have some of those and it is actually harder to hold when it is such a limp leather. Do not misunderstand me though, the leather is soft and it is flexible. It lays flat, which is also aided by the fact that the pages are smyth sewn. As with other calfskin or genuine cowhide editions of the HCSB there are hubs on the spine of the Bible, which is a nice feature.
I think that this is a very nice edition of the HCSB and has become my primary Bible. I highly recommend it. I appreciate that B&H Publishing strives to produce quality editions and this is one of them. You can find it at Amazon, CBD, and at various other retailers.